Inside the battle over 4-year-olds switched at birth

On a day in 2010, two South African mothers each gave birth to a girl at a Johannesburg-area hospital—but they unknowingly took the other's child home after nurses mistakenly switched them.

The error came to light last year, when one of the mothers sued her former partner for child support. A DNA test done as part of the claim revealed the girl wasn't the man's baby—nor was she the woman's daughter.

Now, one woman wants her biological child back; the other doesn't want to switch. The decision will be up to the North Gauteng High Court, and Reuters reports that a court-appointed expert today sided with the mother who wants to keep the child she's been raising for four years.

As Reuters explains, the court requested that the University of Pretoria's Centre for Child Law make a recommendation as to what would be best for the children, as South African law gives that a good deal of weight.

After interviewing the mothers and fathers and clinically assessing the girls, the center's director advised that "the children should stay with the parents who have raised them and should also be permitted to have contact with their biological parents." The girls have already met their biological mothers, who have attended counseling sessions together.

But the Guardian in May reported that after one mother "became unhappy with the process" she found a lawyer to take her case. Says the lawyer, "She said there are resemblances to herself. She conveyed to me that it was traumatic." No date has been set regarding a final determination.

Reuters earlier reported that the hospital has given no explanation for the mix-up. (A wild switched-at-birth case surfaced in Japan last year.)

This article originally appeared on Newser: Inside the Battle Over Girls, 4, Switched at Birth

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